FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

US Rides Weapons Bonanza Wave

War, instability, and high oil prices have created a perfect storm of profit for the world’s weapons manufacturers. This year, military analysts predict the biggest arms bonanza since 1993 which is saying something because in the aftermath of the first Gulf War the global industry reaped the benefits of a $42 billion arms race.

As the world’s largest producer and exporter, the United States is riding the wave. For fiscal year 2006, which ended on September 31, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency churned out notices for $21 billion in arms sales offers . In most cases, that agency is required to notify Congress of all potential major arms deals worth more than $14 million. In one typical day-September 28-the DSCA issued notification on $5.5 billion in agreements. South Korea would get $1.5 billion in Patriot missile equipment and other hardware, Turkey was offered a $2.9 billion package including 30 F-16 fighter planes, while Jordan and Chile were also offered weapons packages.

While not all deals are finalized with arms deliveries, these notifications are a way of taking the pulse of the weapons market and it is racing. U.S. a rms sales offers for 2006 appear to be roughly twice the levels of any other year during the Bush administration. Noteworthy among these are the $5 billion deal for F-16s to Pakistan and a $5.8 billion agreement to completely re-equip Saudi Arabia’s internal security force.

The Perfect Storm

In the case of Pakistan and other allies in the war on terrorism, sales are booming as sanctions and embargoes imposed because of human rights concerns or nuclear proliferation are being lifted. For Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich nations, the price at the pump (which topped $3 a gallon this summer) freed up cash for weapons. Finally, war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in corners of the globe where the war on terrorism is being waged more quietly, allows foreign militaries to see some of the most advanced weapons systems in action. As one U.S. government source told The Times of London in August: “Conflicts act like a customer demonstration show and we tend to see an upsurge in sales because other countries [are] impressed by what is available.”

This storm equals rainbows and pots of gold for the defense industry. For example, Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons manufacturer, stands to reap more than $11 billion in possible new offers. U.S. weapons companies may have patriotic slogans (Lockheed Martin’s is “We Never Forget Who We’re Working For”), but foreign sales mean the biggest bucks because they involve systems where research and development costs were covered by the Pentagon. Also, they are often accompanied by lucrative deals for accessories, spare parts, and eventual upgrades.

But, what means money in the bank for Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and other defense corporations, often means misery where the weapons are shipped. Despite having some of the world’s strongest laws regulating the arms trade, almost half of U.S. weapons end up in countries plagued with ongoing conflict and governed by undemocratic regimes with poor human rights records. According to the annual Conventional Arms Sales to the Developing World released by the Congressional Research Service in November, the United States provided countries in the developing world with more than $11 billion in U.S. arms last year. Of these 25 countries, all had human rights problems according to the State Department’s Human Rights Report, and 10 (including three of the top five) were “undemocratic” in the sense that citizens of those nations “did not have a meaningful right to change their government” in a peaceful manner.

This is the eighth year in a row that the United States has led in global arms deliveries. The United Kingdom trailed in second with $3.1 billion and Russia was a close third, at $2.8 billion in arms deliveries. Together, these three weapons exporters where responsible for almost 70% all arms delivered worldwide last year.

In late October, the United Nations began work on the Arms Trade Treaty, which is aimed at curbing arms transfers to major human rights abusers and areas of conflict. The treaty would also urge weapons suppliers to limit weapons sales likely to undermine development in poor nations. The United States was the only country to vote against the resolution, while 24 (including many other major weapons suppliers) abstained.

The General Assembly will take the next step, but without the active participation of the world’s largest weapons producer and exporter, this important mandate will not be strong enough to counter the perfect storm of profiting from war.

FRIDA BERRIGAN is a columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus and Senior Research Associate at the World Policy Institute’s Arms Trade Resource Center. Her primary research areas with the project include nuclear-weapons policy, war profiteering and corporate crimes, weapons sales to areas of conflict, and military-training programs. She is the author of a number of Institute reports, most recently Weapons at War 2005: Promoting Freedom or Fueling Conflict. She can be reached at: berrigaf@newschool.edu

 

 

More articles by:
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
John Pilger
Bring Julian Assange Home
Conn Hallinan
The Spanish Labyrinth
Patrick Cockburn
Attacking Hodeidah is a Deliberate Act of Cruelty by the Trump Administration
Gary Leupp
Trump Gives Bibi Whatever He Wants
Thomas Knapp
Child Abductions: A Conversation It’s Hard to Believe We’re Even Having
Robert Fisk
I Spoke to Palestinians Who Still Hold the Keys to Homes They Fled Decades Ago – Many are Still Determined to Return
Steve Early
Requiem for a Steelworker: Mon Valley Memories of Oil Can Eddie
Jim Scheff
Protect Our National Forests From an Increase in Logging
Adam Parsons
Reclaiming the UN’s Radical Vision of Global Economic Justice
Dean Baker
Manufacturing Production Falls in May and No One Notices
Laura Flanders
Bottom-Up Wins in Virginia’s Primaries
Binoy Kampmark
The Anguish for Lost Buildings: Embers and Death at the Victoria Park Hotel
Weekend Edition
June 15, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Kovalik
The US & Nicaragua: a Case Study in Historical Amnesia & Blindness
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Yellow Journalism and the New Cold War
Charles Pierson
The Day the US Became an Empire
Jonathan Cook
How the Corporate Media Enslave Us to a World of Illusions
Ajamu Baraka
North Korea Issue is Not De-nuclearization But De-Colonization
Andrew Levine
Midterms Coming: Antinomy Ahead
Louisa Willcox
New Information on 2017 Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Deaths Should Nix Trophy Hunting in Core Habitat
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Singapore Fling
Ron Jacobs
What’s So Bad About Peace, Man?
Robert Hunziker
State of the Climate – It’s Alarming!
L. Michael Hager
Acts and Omissions: The NYT’s Flawed Coverage of the Gaza Protest
Dave Lindorff
However Tenuous and Whatever His Motives, Trump’s Summit Agreement with Kim is Praiseworthy
Robert Fantina
Palestine, the United Nations and the Right of Return
Brian Cloughley
Sabre-Rattling With Russia
Chris Wright
To Be or Not to Be? That’s the Question
David Rosen
Why Do Establishment Feminists Hate Sex Workers?
Victor Grossman
A Key Congress in Leipzig
John Eskow
“It’s All Kinderspiel!” Trump, MSNBC, and the 24/7 Horseshit Roundelay
Paul Buhle
The Russians are Coming!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail